Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh horror marks the start of what could become a new atrocity -- synagogue shootings

Pittsburgh horror marks the start of what could become a new atrocity -- synagogue shootings

America’s Jews are now having to think about the same security measures that churches have had to take on, now that the term “synagogue shooting” has been added to the sad list of church shootings in recent years.

You’ve seen the headlines. The issue is what happens next and where.

On Saturday, a shooter walked into Tree of Life, a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and by no means the largest synagogue in town. It’s unclear why the killer chose that place, but he left many dead and wounded in his wake and a nation — once again — wondering why we’re becoming a country where worshippers can be gunned down in their pews.

By Saturday night the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a lead story with five bylines:

Eleven people are dead and six more are wounded — including four police officers — after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood Saturday morning.

The shooter, who officials said had an assault-style rifle and three handguns, is in custody, Pittsburgh police report. Officials have confirmed he is Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin Borough. He is in Allegheny General Hospital in fair condition with multiple gunshot wounds, officials said.

Gunfire erupted shortly before 10 a.m. as a baby-naming ceremony was getting underway, officials confirmed.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said officers were dispatched at 9:55 a.m. He confirmed that there were 11 fatalities, and six injuries, including four police officers. No children were injured, he said. Gov. Tom Wolf confirmed that the incident was being investigated as a hate crime.

The Anti-Defamation League said it believed it was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S. history.

There’s a lot of other articles on the PG’s site, as it appears the newspaper threw every available reporter it could at the story. The day closed with 3,000 people attending a vigil for the dead and wounded at the intersection of Murray and Forbes avenues.

By Sunday, news was out about Gab.com, a chat site the shooter had loaded with anti-Semitic comments.

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Clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania: Media scramble to unearth bombshell report

Clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania: Media scramble to unearth bombshell report

In newspapers across Pennsylvania, many Sunday editorial pages were filled with angry protests against the Catholic Church and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The reason?

Everyone had been waiting for a huge grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses (Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown and Scranton) across the state.

In this case, it's crucial to note that even the leaders of the various Catholic dioceses -- not to mention the victims -- wanted this 800-page report released. But then last Wednesday, the state supreme court ordered it sealed.

I’ll start with an excerpt from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, for which I freelanced briefly for in the early 1990s. They weren’t into religion reporting back then, but sexual abuse stories aren’t just about religion. They’re about the courts, about the police, about sex, money and power.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their attorneys were stunned last week at news that the report would not be made public. The grand jury investigation examined decades of allegations of abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses across the state, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg.

“They're hurt, and a lot of them will say to me, ‘Mark, this is what they have done to me from day one. When I finally was able to talk about it, they hired an investigator to silence me,' ” (State Rep. Mark) Rozzi said of other victims.

Rozzi was raped at the age of 13 by a priest.

(Altoona lawyer Richard) Serbin, who identified 106 suspected predator priests for the Attorney General's investigators, set the stage for many of the state's early laws involving child sexual abuse when he filed suit against the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese 31 years ago. The suit established Serbin as a victims' advocate. He said he went on to represent nearly 300 victims of clergy sexual abuse over the next 30 years.

If anyone doesn’t believe people are angry about this, try looking at all the comments (34 at present, which is a lot for this blog) underneath my Cardinal Theodore McCarrick post from last Thursday. The anger out there is as strong as it ever was.

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